Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nature Study Outing :: Exploring the North Creekside

We spent the last two weeks' outings at our favorite spot, exploring parts of the park that we hadn't been to yet.  The creek runs north-south, and the entrance into the park hits at the middle of the creek.  We always head south from there, but this time, we decided to see what was northward.  We were surprised to find that the park extended father than we had thought--lots to see.

The first week, we walked north on the east side of the creek.  The next week we crossed the bridge and walked along the west side.

The creek itself has eroded much of its banks, leaving giant roots exposed on both sides.  They form a network of steps for climbing down to the creek--the kids think they look like huge spiderwebs.

The east side of the creek is flat.  Buckeyes, sycamores, and oaks dot a field that now has a thin green bed of new grass, clover, and the tell-tale leaves that promise wildflowers to come.

more lovely lichen
wildflowers on their way!
The west side of the creek involves a much more strenuous walk--the creek forks to the west, but the offshoot dries up shortly past that point.  So to follow the banks, we had to walk past the offshoot, then traverse the dry creek bed, then hike back up the other bank.  

The creek bank is low and wide, covered with large rocks and a very thick layer of sycamore leaves dropped by ancient trees like the one above.  It was a challenge to get through, at least for me--the kids kept asking if I needed a break as they bounded over the rocks with ease.  And I'm a runner!  It might have had something to do with the fact that I was carting a toddler on my back and a baby in my belly.  ;)  Our adventures included sighting a wild boar (thankfully, from afar), but we got back safe and sound.
going through the wide creek bed
After the hike, we parked at a picnic bench (Mommy needed a rest!), and the kids played "Laura Ingalls," collecting bark (salt pork), grass (vegetables), and sticks (firewood).  I fondly remember playing the same game when I was a child. :)

A pair of steller's jays came to visit, and we played bird calls on my phone that they echoed.  The children were amazed.

We also noticed a few more "firsts" of the season: 
:: The first yellow wood sorrel. My daughter found one lone sorrel flower while on one of her "hunting expeditions" and couldn't wait to share the news!  We remember seeing them all over this park last summer.
:: The first arroyo willow leaves.  These leaves joined the buckeyes and sycamores for earliest leafers in our area.  We'll be awaiting their caterpillar-like catkins over the summer too.

Those went straight into our Calendar of Firsts when we got home.  I feel like our frequent visits to this park are allowing us to get a truly week-by-week record of seasonal change.  I can't wait to see what the next few weeks have in store!


  1. Your first two pictures are absolutely stunning!! Worth printing and framing.

    1. Thank you, Erin! It's a very picturesque place. :)

  2. Lovely entry Celeste. I was wondering if I could include this in the OHC Blog Carnival tomorrow. You do such a great job of encouraging other homeschooling nature study families.

    1. Oh, yes--please feel free to do so, Barb! Thanks!

  3. What a lovely place to go for a nature walk. I must admit, I am a bit jealous...here in Ontario it's been far too cold this winter to go for any nature walks at all. And there is no end in sight. The windchill tonight is going to be -31. *sigh*

    1. Yes, we have had pretty lovely weather so far this winter. It's raining this week, but luckily it's still in the 60s. I can't imagine the level of cold you have in Ontario--yikes!